DR Ambedkar IAS Academy

Mobile app KURMA helps save turtles in India

On the occasion of World Turtle Day, 2020 (May 23), a mobile-based application called KURMA was launched aiming at turtle conservation.

About KURMA App:

  • Development:
    • The application is developed by the Indian Turtle Conservation Action Network (ITCAN) in collaboration with the Turtle Survival Alliance-India and Wildlife Conservation Society-India. 


  • It serves as a digital database, with a built-in digital field guide covering 29 species of freshwater turtles and tortoises of India.
  • It also stores information on turtle identification, distribution, vernacular names, and threats. 
  • Identifying species: If anyone reports a turtle from any part of the country using KURMA, he or she receives advice about the species and its conservation. 
  • It also provides the location of the nearest rescue centre for turtles across the country.

    About Tortoise and freshwater turtles : Tortoises and turtles are among the oldest of all living reptiles. 

    • Freshwater turtles and tortoises are referred to as the ‘non-marine’ chelonians (a group of shelled animals) as they lack the adaptation to survive in sea water.
    • Distribution: Out of the 28 species of freshwater turtles and tortoises found in India, eight are found in Karnataka and three of these are endemic to South India.

    Freshwater turtles 

    • They are majorly aquatic and spend most of their time in water. They surface up for breathing. To swim effectively in water, their digits are webbed. 
    • They are primarily carnivorous. 
    • Most species lay their eggs on river banks and in sand or soil, but a few species lay their eggs in mud under the water itself. Their average lifespan is 20-40 years. 
    • Freshwater turtles that spend their time in both water and on land are called terrapins.
    • Significance: Turtles are often known as the vultures of freshwater ecosystems – many species are scavengers and omnivores feeding on dead and decaying organic material in water, while the herbivore species prevent algal blooms and eutrophication. 
    • Turtles play a crucial role in the food web of aquatic ecosystems, and nutrient recycling. 


    • While turtles are more or less dependent on water, Tortoises dwell mostly on land. 
    • Their limbs are thick and column-like. They are primarily herbivores. 
    • They lay eggs by digging the soil and concealing their eggs in it. Their lifespan can be up to 150 years.

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